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How to identify a gifted child

It is important to identify a gifted child as soon as possible because they are at risk in the early years of school. Intellectually gifted children are held back in their learning to conform to the pace of other children in their class.

sleeping smiling baby

At the recent National Child Education Conference and Exhibition organized by Pinnacle Media Group, Dr Inderbir Kaur Sandhu shared information on how to identify early giftedness. Dr Sandhu holds a PhD in Educational Psychology (Gifted Education) from the University of Cambridge, UK. She has been working with individuals of high abilities (gifted) since 1996.

What is considered gifted?

Based on how far they are from the norm of 100:
Mildly Gifted -- 115 to 129
Moderately Gifted -- 130 to 144
Highly Gifted -- 145 to 159
Exceptionally Gifted -- 160 to 179
Profoundly Gifted -- 180

Why do we need to identify a gifted child?

It is important to identify a gifted child as soon as possible because they are at risk in the early years of school, through misidentification, inappropriate grade-placement, inadequate curriculum, an early awareness of being different and consequent attempts to conceal their ability for peer acceptance. More often than not, intellectually gifted children are held back in their learning to conform to the pace of other children in their class.

How do we spot a gifted child?

Research findings indicate that even in infancy, potentially gifted children often proceed through developmental milestones up to 30% faster than other infants. Advanced development in the areas of gross motor, fine motor and language skills has also been observed in potentially gifted infants. Among the profoundly gifted (IQs of 167 to 230+), infants and toddlers were reported to have higher energy levels, longer attention spans and higher sensitivity to tactile sensations than their age mates.

For preschoolers, characteristic traits of giftedness falls under 3 Categories:
1. Language and learning
2. Psychomotor development and motivation
3. Personal-social characteristics

Language and learning

Under language and learning, a gifted preschooler will exhibit his/her  unique learning styles and have long attention spans. They will learn easily and are able to retain what they have learnt. They will have accelerated language development: large vocabularies, enjoyment of self-expression through discussion, and the use of advanced grammar or sentence structure.

Gifted preschoolers are curious and are able to sustain interest in a subject of their own choosing for extended periods of time. They have a more mature sense of humour than age mates. They have the ability to comprehend sophisticated jokes and word puns, long before their age mates are developmentally ready to think at these abstract levels. These kids have interest in factual information books over fantasy and make-believe and also seek out information related to the abstract concepts of time and space and they are usually proficient in the fine and creative arts such as drawing and music.

Psychomotor development and motivation

For psychomotor development and motivation, the kids will have high energy/activity levels. They will have a wide range of consuming or passionate interests on which to expend those energies. They may sleep less than other children and can be extremely independent -- wanting to master their own environments and  driven to explore the curiosities of the world around them.

Personal-social characteristics

With regards to their personal-social characteristics, gifted children exhibit early empathy development and a deep caring for the pain of others. They may feel different than other children and display one or more of several characteristics termed “overexcitabilities” or emotional intensities. These include psychomotor, sensual, imaginational, intellectual and emotional overexcitabilities. Emotional intensities include shyness and difficulty adjusting to new situations.

It is important to remember that while all young children may display these types of behaviours, the young potentially gifted child appears to exhibit these traits to a much greater degree.